Destroying Progressivism: A Strategy
2. The Strategic Situation
All American institutions of consequence are now under progressive control, except for America’s political institutions.
All publicly acceptable discourse is now governed by progressive assumptions, assumptions that are no longer permitted to be publicly questioned. The so-called “conservative” in today’s America is now primarily concerned with maneuvering within the limits of this permitted discourse. And the limits are narrowing to a vanishing point.
Currently, the only successful anti-progressive strategy is to be found in the rise of the anti-progressive media online. Of course, there is the temporary Trump presidency and the Republican control of Congress. But progressives control everything else of consequence in American society. And when they once again control the presidency, their final consolidation of power will begin.
That is the strategic situation.
Progressives fully believe that they have won the “culture wars.” They fully believe that they are in the process of rolling up whatever remains of a genuine opposition to their control of American society. Progressives fully believe that in the future there will be no genuine opposition to their control, since they intend to suppress that opposition. And they are not wrong to believe these things.
Progressive confidence is energized by a spineless Republican Party, now largely controlled by a semi-progressive corporate class. The Republican Party has become largely a pseudo-opposition. The majority of elected Republicans effectively belong to a Uniparty that controls all the elected branches of government, except for the Trump presidency.
Intellectual conservatism, a movement founded sixty years ago to oppose progressivism, now largely acts to conserve the progressive revolution of 1932-2008. Most intellectual conservatives have become the right wing of the progressive revolution.
Conservatives argue for the principles of limited government, while acting to conserve a regime of unlimited government. Conservatives argue for judicial restraint, while acting to conserve a regime of unlimited judicial authority. Conservatives argue for sexual restraint, while acting to conserve a culture of unlimited sexualization. Conservatives argue for the primacy of individual freedom, while acting to conserve a culture in which individual identity is now a social construction of the state.
Is it any wonder that the postconservative right calls conservatives “cuckservatives?”
Any genuine opposition to the progressive control of American society begins with the recognition that this control must be destroyed. It is this revolutionary understanding that the cuckservative rejects.
During the years of the Obama presidency, the national administrative state was finally placed beyond effective democratic control. But this event had been in the cards since 1932. All historical change is generational and we are now four generations past the New Deal. The absence of constitutional government since that era is now the effective political experience of the American people. The Obama administration merely marks the final transition to an administrative dictatorship. It no longer really matters who is president, although Trump is temporarily raising havoc with progressive control of the administrative state.
During the Obama era, congressional Republicans did not lift a finger to oppose the final transition of power to the administrative state. During the Obama era, most congressional Republicans, and all congressional Democrats, effectively ceased to be the representatives of the people and became the representatives of the administrative state to the people.
We are now well into the Trump presidency. And it is clear that progressives continue to control most of the administrative state. Even where Trump has successfully taken control of parts of the administrative state, his control is ephemeral. Once Trump is gone, the final progressive revolution begins.
The Trump presidency is an interregnum.
The Trump presidency is a breathing space that is allowing anti-progressives to prepare for the coming storm. But the Trump presidency is also a decisive shock to the progressive system, since it demonstrates that American politics is not completely under their control. But there are no other politicians waiting in the wings who personify Trump’s visceral rejection of progressivism. Once Trump is gone, the democratic revolt against progressivism will be over.
Current Anti-Progressive Strategy
Once again: The only current battle of consequence being fought by anti-progressives is being waged by the online anti-progressive media.
And although the anti-progressive media have been able to directly challenge progressive control of the news, they are far from being able to destroy that control. A majority of the American people continue to get much or most of their news from the progressive media. The current strategy of the anti-progressive media has been to consolidate their gains while trying to find ways to extend their reach to a greater share of the population. But this has become a war of attrition.
The current strategy of those progressives who control the major online platforms is to deny anti-progressives access to those platforms. This strategy, which is in the process of ramping up, is threatening to drive the anti-progressive media from the field.
Had Hillary Clinton become president, the current battle for control of the news would be a far worse. Under Clinton, the full weight of the administrative state, and of her newly appointed progressive judges, would have been joined to the power of Big Tech in a decisive campaign to rid the Internet of the anti-progressive media. As it is, even with Trump as president, Big Tech has doubled down in its efforts to throttle anti-progressives online. But since Trump is president, Big Tech is forced to pursue this strategy without governmental support.
The current battle for control of the news is being fought on two levels.
First, the anti-progressive online media have been remarkably successful in publicly discrediting the progressive media narrative. Anti-progressive news now reaches one third to one half of the American people on a continuous basis and often influences the middle third of the electorate. At this level of battle, the anti-progressive media have gone from strength to strength. Trump’s election alone demonstrates that at least half of the American people no longer pay any attention to the major media, because if they did Trump would not be president.
Second, the anti-progressive online media are now attempting to extend their reach to a solid majority of the American people. But this has been a far less successful enterprise. Little of consequence has been accomplished toward this goal, while the goal recedes as Big Tech acts to suppress the anti-progressive media on its platforms and beyond.
Working together, the old major media and the Big Tech corporations have major advantages in this fight.
First, the old major media have retained their authority to decide what “the news of the day” will be and how that news will be interpreted, or at least they retain that authority in progressive circles and in cucked Republican circles. The main progressive gatekeepers of the old media are: ABC, CBS, NBC, NPR, CNN, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Associated Press, and Reuters. By calling these corporations gatekeepers, we mean that they are the organizations that decide what the “news of the day” will be and what the “proper interpretation” of that news will be.
To this list we should also add the Big Tech gatekeepers: Facebook (which owns Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger), Google (which owns YouTube and Android), Twitter, Microsoft (which owns Bing), and Apple (which owns iPhone).
By the year 1950, progressive control of the American news media was firmly in place. In that year, a relative handful of radio and (emerging) television networks, together with the major wire services, the major newspapers, and the major newsmagazines, possessed an effective monopoly on the news. In part, this was the result of the decline of local and regional newspapers, which had once dominated the dissemination of news. Local papers now relied on news that was written by the major wire services and news syndicates. However, in large part, the progressive control of the news was the result of the rise of the major broadcast networks, and in particular of the big three television networks, which became the centralized locus for defining the news of the day.
This rise of the networks was the direct result of administrative state regulations, which were written to ensure that there would be just a handful of networks. These regulations also required that the broadcast networks be “politically neutral.” What this actually meant was that a soft-progressive version of the news became the American news standard, a system of controlled news that would dominate the second half of the twentieth century. Progressive broadcast news, fed by other progressive media, became the news for most Americans.
In the late eighties, the Reagan administration repealed the edicts that mandated “political neutrality” in broadcasting. The anti-progressive news breakout thus began with Rush Limbaugh, who became the first national anti-progressive alternative to the major news media. Twenty million Americans were soon listening to his daily three hour news commentaries. Other anti-progressive radio talk shows soon followed and grew major audiences. But progressive talk radio failed to find a major audience, since most progressives already got their news from the major media.
During the nineties, Fox News became the first center-right television cable news network. Progressives, then and now, describe Fox News as a “far right” news service. But as UCLA Political Science Professor Tim Groseclose showed, in his ground-breaking social scientific study, Left Turn: How Liberal Media Bias Distorts the American Mind (2011), Fox News (the news show itself and not the political commentators) stood at about the 40th percentile of political bias on a right to left axis. In short, although 60% of the American people were to the left of Fox News, 40% of Americans were to the right of Fox News.
Every other major news organization in Groseclose’s study (NBC, CBS, ABC, NPR, CNN, the New York Times, and the Washington Post) ran the gamut from the 60th percentile to the 85th percentile in progressive news bias. In other words, from sixty to eighty-five percent of the American people were to the right of the major news media.
During the first decade of the new century, the Internet became a major player in the dissemination of news. Tens of thousands of blogs, Twitter accounts, and online videos appeared, created by progressives and anti-progressives alike. But this new medium favored anti-progressives simply because progressives already controlled the old media. And because the balance of media power was now shifting online, and was splintering into myriads of sources, thousands of anti-progressives were finding their public voices for the first time. Anti-progressive auteurs of all kinds were creating huge online followings.
Simultaneously, the nature of the progressive media was changing. This was because online progressives were now free from the political constraints imposed upon the old major media. They no longer had to pretend to be “neutral interpreters” of the news. Indeed, online progressives now considered it offensive to believe that the proper interpretation of the news could be anything other than a progressive interpretation. The old, fake “political neutrality” of the major media was no longer viable.
The old major media were also discovering this heady new freedom. But they were claiming that “neutral reporting” and progressive reporting were the same thing. And since moderate and conservative Americans were already leaving the old major media in droves, it no longer made sense to pretend to be anything other than progressive. And that, in turn, only accelerated the departure of non-progressive Americans from the major media, which allowed them to become even more explicitly progressive.
The 2016 presidential election was the turning point in the media wars. Under the pressures of that campaign, the old major media became complete shills for Hillary Clinton. This would have appalled the progressives of the older era, who greatly valued the appearance of media neutrality. This also meant that, for that half of the American people who voted for Donald Trump, the major media were now universally regarded, in Trump’s famous words, as being “Fake News.”
Current Limitations of the Anti-Progressive Media
However, despite the collapse of the old major media, progressives still retain overall control of the news narrative.
There are four reasons for this.
First, the old major media, despite a radical decline in market share, continue to attract tens of millions of viewers and readers. They are still the elephant in the room in terms of sheer audience size.
Second, the old major media are still the progressive news command center, despite the rise of an online progressive media. Online progressives now provide much of the news that feeds the old major media, which then repackages their stories and tones them down for popular consumption. At the same time, however, the old major media continue to act as a clearing-house for defining the news of the day for the overall progressive media. It is this partnership between the old major media and the new online progressive media that continues to define the continuing progressive control of the news for nearly half of the population.
Third, the online anti-progressive media are decisively handicapped in that they mostly consist of small organizations and individuals. They are also largely self-funded, whether relying on donations or by running online ads. The progressive media, online and off, enjoy a far greater access to the big advertising dollars and to the millions of dollars that are available from rich progressive donors and foundations. For example, Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos has personally spent tens of millions of dollars to keep the Washington Post afloat. That expenditure not only allows him to own one of the major newspapers that gets to define the news, but which is also the newspaper of the Washington, D.C. power brokers. The Mexican billionaire, Carlos Slim, plays a similar role with regard to the New York Times.
And yet, the online balance of media power has shifted against progressives.
Because the anti-progressive media now continuously reach one third to one half of the American people, the number of consciously anti-progressive Americans is rapidly growing. During the second half of the twentieth century, in an era in which progressives controlled the news, most non-progressive Americans were only latently anti-progressive. They may have grumbled about news bias and voted for Reagan, but they expected liberals to define the news. But the one third to one half of the American people who now follow the anti-progressive online media are in the process of becoming radicalized. Trump’s election is a sign of that radicalization.
Fourth, and this is the most decisive strategic advantage of the progressive media, Big Tech is now fully engaged in removing as much of the anti-progressive media from their public platforms as possible, as well as in removing them from the Internet as far as that is possible. Big Tech is now working in overdrive to achieve this strategic goal. And since most Internet traffic flows through the Big Tech platforms, and since Big Tech controls how websites are stored and made available online, this counterattack is a major strategic blow against the anti-progressive media.
The only real question is whether Big Tech has the means and the will to accomplish this strategic goal. There is also the question of how the anti-progressive media will act in response to this strategy.
The Internet began as an experiment in decentralized, peer-to-peer networking. During the early nineties, individual computers directly connected to other individual computers without the need for any intermediary. This first Internet was a system of radically decentralized communications. However, with the rise of mass public use of the Internet, peer-to-peer communications began to recede as Americans began to join the huge, controlled platforms created by Big Tech. These platforms have become the Internet for the majority of Americans.
Facebook alone has over two billion people on its platform. And the progressives who control that platform are attempting to deal with the stark reality that tens of millions of anti-progressives use their platform to share anti-progressive news and information. Google and Bing, the two major online search engines, are now employing algorithms to downgrade search results that do not fit the progressive narrative. Twitter has become the most overt online censor of anti-progressive users, through a continuing campaign to ensure that anti-progressive “tweets” cannot be found, through a process that is called “shadow-banning.” Twitter is also engaged in the banning of even prominent anti-progressives from its platform. Google-owned YouTube is involved in a major effort to demonetize anti-progressive videographers, removing their ability to make a living by running ads. YouTube is also engaged in degrading the ability of viewers to find anti-progressive videos on their site, and is also engaged in the outright banning of anti-progressive videos.
Before the 2016 election, much of this progressive censorship already existed, but was unsystematic. In part, this was because Big Tech progressives were still committed to a vision of creating an Internet based upon freedom of speech. And since this commitment was not entirely hypocritical, they found themselves on the horns of a dilemma. While wanting to be celebrated as avatars of free speech, they also wanted to ensure the online triumph of progressive speech. And that put them in a position that could only be contradictory, since a major, online anti-progressive revolt was using their platforms to successfully fight progressivism.
Adding to the confusion was the reality that Big Tech was forced to engage in two very different kinds of censorship.
The first kind was as old as the state itself. It involved the suppression of unwanted speech through the use of human censors. Big Tech corporate divisions, staffed by human beings (i.e., staffed by underpaid progressives) employed outside expert help (i.e., help from higher paid progressives), to make “judgments” about “problematic” texts and videos. These judgments were to be based upon an intellectual distinction between “freedom of speech” and the “abuse of freedom of speech,” which meant that Big Tech could claim that they were not engaged in censorship at all, but were merely upholding “objective” standards when it came to publicly permissible speech. In other words, Big Tech was resurrecting the old major media claim that they were only “neutral” adjudicators of speech.
This claim was not very convincing to those who were being censored.
Also, given the huge number of texts and videos that were constantly being created online, a full regime of human censorship was clearly impossible. Such a project would have required the hiring of millions of people at a cost in the billions. Thus human censorship was usually limited to “major controversies.” A “major controversy” occurred when a large number of people online publicly complained about some particular text or video. But this soon became a process that was socially engineered by progressive organizations, or by the major media, who provided “major public protests” as needed. However, it was the sheer subjectivity of human censorship that often resulted in bad publicity for Big Tech.
A second and more effective kind of censorship was by computer algorithm. However, using algorithms to decide what should be censored was also problematic, since algorithms are limited when it comes to questions of meaning. Still, in a rough kind of way, it did become possible for Big Tech to combine censorship by human beings with censorship by algorithms to create a hybrid censorship model, while still claiming to uphold “freedom of speech.”
Also: If one begins with the conviction that progressive beliefs are an objective claim about the nature of reality, while anti-progressive beliefs are largely subjective opinion, it becomes possible, after a fashion, to “objectively” decide when anti-progressive speech should be banned or algorithmically downgraded. And since Big Tech is a major employer of recent college graduates, and since most recent college graduates are now taught from childhood, and fully believe, that there is no legitimate opposition to progressive beliefs, the decision of what to censor becomes easier over time.
Unlimited freedom of speech became a progressive dogma during the twentieth century, because that dogma served their interests. In that century, conflicts over freedom of speech almost invariably involved progressives publicly declaiming against censorship by non-progressive institutions. Therefore unlimited freedom of speech and the progressive revolution were always understood to be the same thing. However, now that progressives control all the major institutions of society, unlimited freedom of speech as a method for subverting the authority of institutions is now the political weapon of anti-progressives. This is why progressives are suddenly discovering the necessity for limits on that “unlimited freedom.”
Indeed, progressives today argue that there is a radical distinction to be made between “freedom of speech” and something called “hate speech.” Although progressives once believed unconditionally in freedom of speech, they now believe that “hate speech” should be banned. And just what, exactly, is “hate speech?” It is speech that is offensive to progressives.
One example of this can found in the recent public firing of James Damore from his job as a software engineer at Google. James Damore’s crime was to participate in a company online memo on the problem of there being too few women software engineers at Google. Damore agreed that more needed to be done to actively recruit women, but then went on to argue that the company’s stated goal of ensuring that half of all Google software engineers would be women ran up against the reality, demonstrated by many social scientific studies, that men and women have different interests and talents. Thus it was quite unlikely that half of all software engineers at Google would ever be women.
Needless to say, the progressive roof fell in on James Damore. He had violated a central progressive dogma, which is that there can be no substantive differences between men and women. Days of company-promoted, progressive hysteria immediately ensued. Not only was James Damore purged from his job, but so was anyone who dared to publicly defend him. Damore’s common sense observations, backed by social scientific data, were completely unacceptable, not just to Google’s progressive managers, but to organized groups of progressive witch-hunters within the company, who had been actively engaged for some time in harassing non-progressive employees. They not only publicly demanded that Damore be fired from Google, but demanded that he be subject to an industry-wide ban so as to ensure that he would never be able to work as a software engineer again.
In the joint lawsuit filed against Google by James Damore and Daniel Gudeman (another fired employee) one can find detailed accounts of the progressive witch hunts and public intimidation sessions that were a daily occurrence at Google even before Damore’s firing. Intimidation by progressive Google managers, and by organized groups of progressive employees, had become the norm at Google. Google gave financial rewards to those employees who successfully sniffed out the witches in their midst.
This is Big Tech’s vision of America’s future.
Summary and Conclusion
I have tried, in this brief chapter, to trace the main lines of force within the current strategic situation.
Progressives now control every major institution in American life. The only real resistance to this progressive control of American society is to be found in the anti-progressive media, primarily online, which has arisen from nowhere to directly challenge progressive control of the news. The anti-progressive media are today the only real resistance to the progressive revolution.
The good news is that anti-progressives have managed to create an alternative to the dominant media and that alternative now reaches one third to one half of the American people. For the first time in modern American history, progressive control of the news is being publicly challenged.
The bad news is that the anti-progressive media remain outgunned. The old media, despite a radical collapse of market share, continue to have tens of millions of readers and viewers. The old media are also still the clearing house that defines the news in conjunction with the online progressive media. Most decisive of all, however, the progressive Big Tech platforms, through which most Americans now connect with each other online, are engaged in a major strategic effort to suppress the anti-progressive media on their platforms and on the Internet as a whole.
That is the current strategic situation.
Details of the class action lawsuit filed against Google by the lawyers for James Damore.
Here Are All The Media Outlets Blatantly Lying About The Google Memo by Bre Payton, The Federalist, August 8, 2017. An overview of the major media lies about the Damore memo.
19 Insane Tidbits From James Damore’s Lawsuit About Google’s Office Environment by Rachel Stoltzfoos, The Federalist, January 10, 2018. An overview of incidents described in the Damore lawsuit, detailing the pervasive political and social coercion that is part of the Google work experience.
Destroying Progressivism: A Strategy
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